Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring Break, Day 5: ROCK WARS!

The weather hit on Thursday.  Temps dropped and the day was drizzly and gross.  Ida spent a solid 15 minutes just staring out at the grey drear.

Most of the Michigan crew decided to take the day off.  We headed out to do some rainy day trad.  It turned out the the best day of the trip.

We initially planned to head to Tower Rock and get Arachnid, Africa and Caver's Route (the Red's oldest climb).  Mike suggested we try Rock Wars.  Normally 5.10a is beyond my trad comfort zone, but I was promised a route that's closer to sport climbing than most trad routes.

After a treacherously muddy hike up to the cliff (past a big band of limestone, of all things) we got to the base of the route.  Wow.

The climbing line is really well defined, right up a 80 foot flake.  On either side the sandstone is a beautiful uniform color and there's just enough of an inside corner to make the wall completely fill your visual field.  The thing just begs to be climbed.  It's also pretty intimidating looking.

Without any gear beta, I just racked up with everything, which is a comically huge load...

... and got to work.

The route was deceptively easy through the bottom half.  Expecting it to get harder at any moment, I put in way, way more protection than I needed.  Doing it over, I'd place half as many pieces in the bottom half.

After pulling around the lip just ahead, things got VERY blank for about 10 feet.  The feet ran out and it was nothing but a fingertip wide crack until the ledge.  There were some face holds, but they were a bit slick to make much use of with the day's wet weather.


Above the ledge things felt every bit of 5.10 until getting to the anchors.  Bad feet and a bit of an awkward angle.   I wound up resting on the gear a couple of times while I figured out where the hell to put my feet.  Clipping the anchors felt REALLY good.

Sam toproped it, no problem.

Ana led it on my gear and placed some of her own for practice.  She put in a terrible 0.1 X4 placement that popped when she rested on it, but by that point we had so much metal in the crack it was no big deal.  Still kind of a sickening feeling having gear pull.

After that, Sam led the thing and placed even more gear.  By the time we were finished we had placed ALL my cams and most of my nuts.  30 placements.  Best photo of the day here:

Just your average 9 year old kid leading a 5.10 trad route

With the rest of the routes on the wall all some degree of wet, we decided to quit while we were ahead and made the slippery trek back down to the car.  We'll definitely be back to this area, though, as there are at least another half dozen 'easy' routes worth serious attention here.

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